Isaac Zavala came to RHSNM to recover from a stroke and serious brain injury

Before his brain injury, Isaac Zavala, a father of two, was an active guy. He worked at a chili plant as a machine operator and spent his free time with friends playing darts and shooting pool.

One morning, Isaac woke up with a massive headache and felt dizzy. When he tried to stand up, he fell and hit his head. Isaac had suffered a stroke and a serious brain injury. After an initial hospitalization, he was admitted to the Rehabilitation Hospital of Southern New Mexico to begin his recovery.

As with any recovery from a serious injury, there were tough days. But Isaac was inspired to push through the tough days by staff members like Joanna, his speech therapist. “She was always on me and motivated me. She would tell me to focus, scan to the left, and take my time.” He has worked hard to achieve his rehabilitation goals and wants to prove to everyone that he will walk again.

Joanna developed a bond with Isaac that helped him push through the tough days of his recovery

With a desire to pay it forward, Isaac has advice to share with others who have suffered a brain injury. “You gotta keep fighting your fight. Go to therapy and do your best every day. As hard as it is, think positive. Keep fighting because there is light at the end of the tunnel. At times it seems like you can’t accomplish your goals, but you can.”

Isaac’s stay at RHSNM involved not just therapy, but education, as well. He now knows the signs and symptoms of a stroke and will incorporate preventative measures into his routine. He continues to work on getting his old life back. For him, that starts with not taking the little things for granted like walking, going to the bathroom, and taking showers by himself.

“When you least expect it, you will look back and see how much progress you’ve made, and it’s shocking.” He views success as walking on his own again so he can take his kids to do their favorite activities like going to the beach.